Clark Freeport—The government lost P22 billion in terms of revenues from 2014 to 2017 alone due to proliferation of counterfeit cigarettes being manufactured in different warehouses situated in Central Luzon, key official of the Japan Tobacco International bared Monday.
Citing a study, JTI external lawyer Maria Rona Vergara said this was why our company negotiated with the Department of Finance and law enforcement authorities to intensify campaign against fake cirgarettes flourishing in the market across the archipelago.
“This has greatly affected the production of legitimate cigarette manufacturers and a big loss to the Philippine government tax,” said Vergara on the sidelines of the ceremonial condemnation of multimillion worth of counterfeit cigarette-making machines held at the Bureau of Customs Port of Clark.
Vergara said thousands of master cases of cigarettes with unknown brands have been seized in different areas during recent raids conducted by line government agencies including the Bureau of Internal Revenue, BoC, and the police.
“The prevailing price of tax stamp is P45 per pack of cigarettes and for thousands of master cases (one master case or big box carry 50 reams) so, just multiply P45 times the number of packs in every ream. That’s a big revenue for the government,” she added.
Port of Clark district collector lawyer Ruby Claudia Alameda said the biggest counterfiet cigarette-making machines were seized at Barangay San Isidro, San Simon, Pampanga where seven units accounted by the BIR, JTI and BoC following raid at the Global Asian Park early this year. The machines were sneaked into the country and was consigned to a Kevin Esguerra.
She said several machines were discovered in Guguinto, Bulacan specifically in one of the warehouses at RIS Industrial Park situated along Guiguinto Road sometime on 2018 consigned to a certain Eduard Ang.
Last month, agents of the Regional Intelligence Division-Special Concern Unit (RID-SCU) raided several stalls selling counterfeit cigarettes in Meycauayan, Bulacan public market. Similar operations was conducted by BoC and BIR in different areas in Bulacan where millions worth of fake cigarettes have been seized.
“The campaign is part of the BoC relentless efforts to prevent illicit trade and customs fraud,” said Alameda while supervising the destruction of fake cigarette-manufacturing machines held at the Port of Clark grounds.
The BoC Port of Clark will hold similar activity Tuesday (Nov 19) where several machines, placed under seizure procedures during recent raid at Bgy. Mitla, Porac, Pampanga be destroyed.
Some 145 master cases carrying different brands of cigarettes will be set on flames.
“The activity is to send a strong message to smugglers to stop their illegal business practices by shortchanging the government of righful revenues,” Alameda told reporters.